When you search the internet, you will find hundreds of blogs, articles, and websites that aid your job search by anticipating potential interview questions and having well-prepared answers. While being prepared to respond is critically important, so is being prepared to ask. Your goal is to pull back the curtain on prospective employers, their cultures, and how they view their people. You need to ask probing and direct questions that go beyond asking about pay, benefits, or job details.
Career decisions are critically important because they can support a holistically harmonious life. Therefore, it is the time to be bold, inquisitive, and selective. Have the courage and confidence to select an employer where you can bring your best self to work. The health of a company’s culture can be measured by how its people are treated. Healthy companies have a long-term view of success and are better positioned to create value.
What does a healthy and strong culture look like? According to conscious.org, there are 10 ways in which companies create a healthy culture such as putting the team’s health and well-being first and making culture deliberate—and not accidental or an afterthought.
The first step in your job search should be to clearly define your values, those things that are non-negotiable. Before you apply for a job, learn about the organization and determine if the company’s vision, mission and values align with yours.
Read company reviews on social media sites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Fairy God Boss, and Great Place to Work. Scope out the company’s social media posts and see what tone they use. Search for recent headlines about the company, CEO, and other top leaders. Lastly, research the person to whom you will report by using LinkedIn, your network, and the internet.
Most importantly, be bold and ask many questions that focus less on the job and more on the culture. Worthwhile companies will happily provide answers because they want to attract the best person for the job. During your interviews, sprinkle some of the questions below into the conversations. The first eight questions will give you a picture of how people are regarded. You don’t have to ask all the questions.
Pick the five or six questions that resonate with you, those that will determine whether the company’s values align with yours. These atypical questions will yield a keener understanding of the company to which you will commit your strength, talents, and energy.
- Describe some HR policies that foster an environment of respect and inclusion?
- Does the company administer an employee satisfaction survey? If so, what was the most recent score that measures engagement?
- How is the voice of employees collected? If so, how has their feedback been incorporated into decisions or improvements?
- What is the current annual turnover percentage for: leaders and non-leaders.
- How are leaders developed? Is there a formal and expected curriculum?
- Who are the most highly regarded executives? What attributes make them so?
- Where do employees fit into the company’s strategic plan?
- What are the current strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the company?
- Does the human resources department incorporate the voice of employees in their decisions, strategies, products, and services? If so, please provide some examples.
- Is there a clear, formal, and engaging onboarding process for newly hired staff and leaders? If so, please describe.
- Does the head of HR report to the CEO of the company? If so, what is your opinion regarding how the CEO leans on the CHRO?
- Has the company orchestrated any reductions in force in the past three years? If so, were displaced employees provided severance and any career or mental health counseling?
- Have there been any cuts to the HR budget or staff in the past three years? If so, have those cuts been made with a commensurate decrease in overall company headcount?
- Has there been any union activity in the past three years? What prompted the union push?
- What is the tenure of the current CEO?
- What are the company-wide standards for leader behavior and performance? How are leaders held accountable?
- Does the company embrace a culture of coaching? If so, please describe.
- When was the current company mission, vision, and values last updated? If they have changed in the past three years, what was the reason?
- How are decisions made when there’s disagreement and stakes are high?
Asking the right questions can help you effectively evaluate the company to see if they are a good fit for you. There are some articles that will encourage you to avoid asking too many questions or perceived confrontational questions. Any employer that is proud of their company, and its commitment to people should be eager to answer your questions and not bothered by them.
Your decision to accept a job is highly dependent on having the right information about the job and the culture. Every company has a unique value system, work environment, and approach. Investing time upfront to ask the right questions will help ensure that you say “yes” to the right company.
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